Lately, I’ve been on a project kick. If someone needs a gift, they get something homemade out of a piece of wood. People that have been gifted with a Tara original include my mama (her birthday AND Mother’s Day), Emily (wedding gift), Liz (another wedding gift), and Missy (yet another wedding gift, terribly belated). They didn’t all get the same thing. I’m not a factory. Some gifts were similar, but with distinct differences (Mama and Liz). Admittedly, I stole these ideas from other blogs. Instead of posting step-by-step instructions, I’ll give you links to the other blogs, and tell you about any changes I made to my projects.
1) Mama’s Birthday Present (stolen from thehandmadehome.net)
So, the chick at thehandmadehome.net did her last name and number of people in her family. Well, the Williams 2 didn’t have the same ring to it. Since Mama and Brian have three girls, I did “Our Fab 3”. Mama made a supplement to this which I’ll share another day (super cool picture display). Thehandmadehome woman used a projector to trace her letters. I just printed mine in extra huge fonts. I went to Menards and dug through the remnant bin. Enter: mistake. I was only checking the boards for similar lengths (as you can see in the picture, I didn’t succeed, but I thought it was quirky). When I got home, I noticed one of the boards was smiling. Also, most big box stores (Lowes, Menards, Home Depot, etc) are supposed to cut boards for you. Not my Menards (which made we wonder why they had a remnant board section… they’re cutting boards for someone!). I don’t have a saw or a truck to haul full length lumber. If you do, great! Note: do not listen to the guy selling nails when you know a 1” nail won’t do much when you’re working with a 1” thick board. Good thing I used wood glue.
Next project was pretty much the same as Mama’s, but different fonts, dimensions, and paint color. This time I went to Lowes (I learned) and had them cut a perfectly straight board for me. I also got 1-1/4” nails (you could also use screws, but I’m impatient and can’t spend the time drilling a pilot hole). I couldn’t wait until the wedding, so I showed this to the couple before the wedding. Patience is clearly not a virtue I possess.
This one is an oldie, but a goodie. I made this last year, super pregnant, on the floor in our dining room (we had just moved in maybe a week or two before). I saw state nail art onEtsy and Pinterest, and decided I didn’t need to pay that much to make it. I got a scrap piece of wood from Mama and Brian’s house (I think it was a 2x10, about 15” long, but I’m not sure), some nails, and some string. Emily and her hubby, Josh, got married in Alabama, but they (inconveniently for me) had the wedding in Gulf Shores, at the very bottom of the state. This made the super cute heart that is usually negative space a little tricky. I just used her other wedding color and filled in the heart. To get the outline of Alabama, I printed a map on legal paper, taped it to the wood, and started putting nails around the outline (hammered about halfway in). I didn’t count, but it came out to exactly 100 nails for the outline and 20 for the heart. Afterward, I just ripped the paper off (I was a little scared that it would pull some nails out, but it didn’t). Then I ran string from each nail to the outside of the heart. In hindsight, I would have 1) not strung an outline of the state, 2) left the wood plain, I would’ve stained it, and 3) been more meticulous about my string to nail ratio. I think it turned out pretty well, regardless.
4) Mother’s Day Present for Mama (from shanty-2-chic.com)
While I was at Lowes getting lumber for Liz’s wedding present, I also had a 2x12 cut down into 15” pieces. This one I pretty much followed exactly, except I just used more nail heads to fasten the pictures I chose. Mama ended up using some double-sided tape to hold down the corners that weren’t nailed. Project redo: I would’ve used chalkboard paint instead of the free print out so Mama could change what it said.
I guess the best way to describe this one is as a hybrid of the Mother’s Day project and the Mama’s birthday/Liz’s wedding projects. Missy and Liz were both super excited about their married last names, so I knew I wanted to integrate them in their presents. I saw some tutorials online about how to transfer a photo to a piece of wood, so I decided to try it out for Missy. I had a bunch of the blocks of wood from the Mother’s Day project, so I used that. I Googled “country sunrise” (because Missy is my fave country girl!) to use for the photo transfer. You have to print the picture on regular, copy paper from a laser printer. I read that laser printers deposit more ink than inkjet printers, so the transfer is more complete. It also seems like the ink is sort of floating on top of the paper rather than soaked into it. I printed my photo on legal size paper (it was a panoramic shot, so it wasn’t distorted). I had to buy some Modge Podge (MP) for this one, but it was so worth it. I got to use my new orbital sander for the first time, and sanded the crap out of that wood (she’s got little ones, so I rounded the edges quite a bit)! Then I wiped it off with a damp towel to get all the sand dust. I poured a little MP and spread it where I thought the picture would go in a thin layer across the wood. I laid the picture ink side down on the MP while it was still wet. I tried my best to center it. After it dried overnight, I covered the whole piece of paper with a more-than-damp-but-not-soaking-wet-towel for a few minutes. I used that same towel to kind of scrub the paper off (this whole process is reminiscent of the temporary tattoos of my childhood). I did mine in two rounds, peeling/scrubbing two layers. My towel started to rub some of the picture off, so I switched to my fingers. Certain parts of the picture are more, um, rustic than I had hoped, but I’m rolling with it.Next time I’ll probably use a thicker layer of MP. I think I might have been a little stingy. Also, my picture didn’t go all the way to the edges. This was an issue after I did the letters…
I’m a bit of a font junkie, so finding the perfect one waskey. I wanted the piece to feel a little western, so I Googled “western font”, and found a free website that made her last name a picture. Then I copied and pasted the text “picture” into word and resized it super big. That’s as technical as I get with this one. It was tricky, and I’m sure there was an easier way to do it in Photoshop, but I was done messing with it (this was about 45 min into font searching). The letters were about a page tall each. Turned out, they were too wide, so I manually cut and pasted them (literally with scissors and tape). After editing the letters, I traced them and painted around my lines. I was super impressed with myself until I realized the “R” at the end of “BAKER” looked super bad since the picture didn’t go to the edge. I got out my little paint brush and some stain, and fixed it right up! (Note: I thought about staining the entire thing before I transferred the picture, but I’m really glad I didn’t. The picture turned out darker than I expected on the wood even though the wood was pretty light.)
She got it, and she loved it! I think it’s my favorite so far!
I’m sure my instructions are by no means complete, so please ask if you have questions on how I did something!
Do you have any favorite homemade gifts given or received?